The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee joined Democrats Saturday in criticizing President Trump’s failure to send a report to Congress on the murder of Saudi Arabian dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said he is “deeply troubled” by the administration’s failure to meet the deadline on Friday for submitting a report on the slaying that is linked to the Saudi royal family.
The White House said in a statement that Congress can’t force the president to act.
“Consistent with the previous administration’s position and the constitutional separation of powers, the president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate,” the administration said, adding that the U.S. already has taken action against the killers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter to Congress outlining actions taken by the U.S. against individuals believed to be involved in the killing, but stopped short of describing who was ultimately responsible.
Under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, Congress can require the administration to report within 120 days whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing or other violations of human rights.
Mr. McCaul said the administration’s letter doesn’t meet the law’s requirements as requested by committee chairmen last October, including then-Senate Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican.
“Jamal’s murder was appalling,” Mr. McCaul said. “The lesson of this terrible event needs to be that intimidation and violence by any government against peaceful dissent will be met with strong disapproval by responsible nations. Everyone involved in this gruesome crime must be identified and held accountable. When the United States fails to lead, we compromise our integrity and abandon those pursuing justice around the world.”
Mr. Khashoggi, an American resident and a columnist for The Washington Post, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by a team of Saudi operatives. The administration imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals believed to be involved in the murder. But the U.S. has resisted blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler and an important ally of the administration.
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